One of the most important parts of camping is packing your food supply. You need food to maintain energy after high-level activities like hiking and setting up camp, and it can be exciting to try new recipes and enjoy meals in the quiet of nature.
It's crucial to use proper food storage and handling techniques when camping. The right techniques keep animals away from your tent site and maintain the food's freshness. Your food storage preparation depends on the type of food you pack and your camping location.
Learn more about the best food storage and handling for campers and backpackers.
How to Store Food While Camping
Depending on your camping location, you should take certain precautions when packing and handling food. Whether you're camping for a week or one night, proper food storage is essential.
How to Store Food When Tent Camping
Campgrounds are typically located in the wilderness, where many animals reside. It's essential to keep your food away from wildlife — consuming human food can disrupt their diets and make them dependent on humans. Dependency can lead to aggression, making it essential to store and dispose of food properly.
Food smells attract animals to your campsite. To prevent their arrival, campers should follow these food storage practices for tent camping:
- Keep food secured: Your food should be secure at all times. Store your food in a locked cooler or car when you leave your campsite during the day. Campsites allow you to spread out, giving you many opportunities to lay down food. Birds and squirrels can quickly snatch food in daylight, while larger animals might forage at night. While leaving food out before and after meals is tempting, you should move food products into storage containers as soon as possible. In particular, you should keep scented items away from the open air.
- Dispose of food properly: You must also handle food and packaging waste correctly. Leftover food and wrappers can smell strongly, drawing animals close to your campsite. Many campsites have secure garbage cans and dumpsters that are locked from animals. You can take your trash to these locations a few times each day to keep your site clean. Other campers prefer to keep a large trash bag at their site, then secure it in their car during the day and at night. After meals, look around your campsite to see if there are any food remnants or packages.
The National Park Service also advises campers not to bring snacks into tents. If you eat something late at night, you become less likely to dispose of it properly.
How to Store Food When Backpacking
Backpacking requires extra food preparation. Backpacking routes take you deep into the wilderness, making packing the proper supplies essential. Backpackers must pack enough food to energize their journeys while also ensuring their backpacks are at safe weights. Most backcountry sites are significant distances from parking lots and large trash receptacles, so your disposal procedures are also different.
Backpacking routes might also take you closer to wildlife habitats. Animals like bears live deeper in the woods, increasing the need to follow safety procedures. After finding a place to rest for the night and eating a meal, backpackers should take extra precautions with food storage.
Backpackers can use various approaches to keep their food safe from bears and other animals. These are three examples:
- Food canisters: Bear-proof canisters have lids you can screw on and off. Some even need an additional screwdriver or tool to open the lid, making it more impossible for animals to reach your food. Canisters are available in many sizes, so you can accommodate different meals and snacks. You can also store them in your backpack for optimal security. However, canisters usually consist of metal, making them heavy for your hikes.
- Bear bags: Bear bags are containers made from plastic and aluminum liners. Many have odor-proof designs that prevent smells from escaping. They're compact and lightweight, making them easy to slip into your backpack. You can keep them on the ground or hang them in the air to make them harder for bears to reach.
- Hanging food: Many backpackers hang their food during the night to prevent animals from reaching it. You can suspend your food from a sturdy tree limb or designated pole. You will need a bag for the food and rope for its suspension. It often takes several tries to secure the food in a high position. Be sure to start positioning the food during daylight so you can see your surroundings more clearly. Remember its location so you can retrieve it in the morning.
Other Camping Food Tips
In addition to food storage methods, you should follow other safety procedures to keep the food as fresh as possible. Here are other tips for how to store food when camping:
- Follow food safety procedures: Follow all cooking and handling directions according to the packages. Read directions carefully for exact storage and cooking instructions. For instance, certain foods might need refrigeration or specific cooking needs. You can bring coolers to campgrounds, allowing for frozen or cold products. It's best to bring nonperishable items to the backcountry, where it's much more difficult to transport refrigerated tools. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after cooking and eating.
- Use secure storage items: You need secure packages to keep food fresh and safe to eat. Reusable containers and collapsible food storage items for campers reduce waste and keep food more secure. You can find reusable bags and containers for camping and backpacking. These are available in different sizes, letting you pack various food types and meal ingredients.
- Use coolers correctly: Products like milk, cheese and raw meat need to stay at certain temperatures for safe consumption. If you bring a cooler, it's important to keep it at the proper temperature. Pack extra ice and keep the cooler closed as much as possible. It's best to leave frozen items at the bottom, where it's the coldest.
- Keep food odors at a distance: If possible, cook and clean at a distance from your campsite. The distance prevents odors from reaching where you sleep. If animals are attracted to your campsite, they would move toward the food scent rather than your tent.
Shop for Camping Food Essentials With Xtrema Today
Proper food preparation improves your camping trip's success. If you need secure food containers, shop online with Xtrema today.
Our reusable and durable food containers are some of the best food storage options for campers. Different sizes and types can meet the needs of many food products. You can keep your food fresh and reuse the products on many upcoming camping trips. Browse our complete selection of kitchen tools for other cooking and camping supplies.
To get started with Xtrema, shop online today.